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Gareth Knight
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AMIGA 3000+ and AA3000

Developer: Commodore
Year of development: 1989-1991
Rumoured release date: April 1992
A3000 Plus, revision 1
Towards the latter end of the 1980s, the Commodore administration realized that a follow-up to the Amiga 3000 would be required. This resulted in the development of a third generation chipset, dubbed 'Advanced Amiga' (AA), followed by the design of a high-end machine to utilize it - the A3000+. As the name suggests, this system was being designed as a drop-in replacement for the existing Amiga 3000 motherboard.

The A3000+ is a rare beast - although Commodore are rumoured to have produced 50 differing versions, less than ten are known to be in existence. It was the first computer to be based on the Pandora chipset (later dubbed AA, then AGA). Revision 0 of this system first booted successfully in February of 1991, thanks to a chip revision that got the display logic actually working.

A3000 Plus legend
The image above shows a blank revision 1 board, which had a completed audio subsystem. This board was sold in an eBay auction during October 2001. His description of the board is shown below:

"You can see quite a bit of support circuitry for the DSP in the upper lefthand corner of this board. There was an audio CODEC here, designed to allow 16-bit, 2-channel recording and playback. This was very cutting edge at the time, such chips, common today, where just becoming available. In addition, there was a separate mono CODEC with hardware phase correction, which supported modem protocols up to V32. The actual DSP was located above and to the right of the CPU."
- Dave Haynie, eBay auction, October 2001
The new Amiga boasted several advances, such as the AT&T DSP3210 50 MHz digital signal processor, performing at 25MFLOPS. The chip included AT&T's custom multitasking operating system, VCOS that managed DSP operations. It is rumoured the mid-1991 design revision provided hardware CODECs for 16-bit stereo I/O (at a maximum rate of 48kHz) and phase correction, intended for a proposed V32 modems. The prototype board was missing the monitor connector and scan doubling hardware found in the earlier A3000, though this may have been implemented in a later model. It is reported that existing versions of the machine are stable and capable of running AGA games.
 
Case Altered A3000 desktop unit (minor modification to Zorro slots and PSU)
CPU On-board 25MHz 68030 (w/ MMU) and '882, the particular machine shown in the photographs is used with a commodore A3640
ROM AmigaOS 3.0 (double ROM, as found in the A4000)
RAM 2MB Chip, 8Mb Fast (A3000-style ZIP RAM)
Chipset AA/AGA
Sound onboard DSP socket, intended for AT&T DSP3210
Buster Rev. 11
Zorro Slots 4 Zorro III, 2 in-line ISA, 1 Video slot
SCSI A3000 style SCSI Controller (same Western Digital rev. 8 chip as in the A3000)
Drives 1.76MB Floppy drive
Others Hardware clock
AA3000 motherboard
Development was cancelled by the new head of engineering, Bill Sydnes allegedly due to cost, although mutterings by ex-Commodore employees indicate his deep dislike of the previous administration was a major factor. A scaled-down version of the A3000+ was later developed under the title, AA3000. This was also cancelled in another wide-ranging spending cut.

In an attempt to produce a successor, a slower machine was designed - the Amiga 4000. However, the machine was plagued by slow drive access and CPU intensive IDE interface. In comparison to the A3000+, the A4000 was a disappointing replacement.
 
 

 

Images of the A3000+
Pictures originally donated to the Big Book of Amiga Hardware by Anonymous. Follow this link for more images of the A3000 Plus.

AA3000 motherboard (63K) | Alice and Lisa AGA chip (66K) | AA3000 legend (27K)

 

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Last Update: 1/11/2001

 


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